The F-1 nonimmigrant category was created by 101(a)(15)(F) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. An F-1 student is a nonimmigrant who is pursuing a full course of study to achieve a specific education or professional objective at an academic institution in the United States [U.S.]. International students in F-1 status make up the majority of international students in most academic and language programs at the University of Iowa and in the U.S.

As a student in the U.S. in F-1 status, you are required to follow specific federal laws. This is meant to provide a generic overview of certain F-1 requirements; it does not contain all laws for every situation. If you ever have questions or concerns, always contact an advisor with International Student and Scholar Services for specific guidance.

Keep your address updated

As an F-1 student, it is your responsibility to maintain your non-immigrant F-1 status. Failure to follow the laws for F-1 status can result in you losing your legal ability to be in the U.S., and may harm your chances of getting a new visa in the future. To ensure you are following F-1 laws, you must:

  1. Keep your passport valid at all times, in most cases for at least 6 months into the future.
  2. Complete your class registration by the published registration deadline (generally the 10-12 days after the first day of class, as published in the Office of the Registrar Academic Deadlines calendar.
  3. Update your change of physical address (where you live in the US) on MyUI within 10 days of the change. This address cannot be a P.O. Box or a departmental address.
  4. Pursue a full-course of study each fall and spring semester, defined as 12 semester hours for undergraduate students and 9 semester hours for graduate students.
  5. Obtain permission from an ISSS advisor if you need to enroll in less than a full-course of study, using the Part-Time Enrollment Authorization form.
  6. Obtain permission from an ISSS advisor before withdrawing from all your courses.
  7. Make normal progress toward completing a course of study. This includes graduating when you are eligible to graduate and not delaying graduation for non-academic reasons.
  8. Not let your I-20 expire. You must remember the expiration date on your I-20, and process your program extension prior to the expiration date listed on your current I-20 if you are not able to complete your studies by that time.
  9. Restrict your on-campus work to a weekly total of 20 hours per week during the fall and spring semesters. You may work full-time during the winter and summer vacations.
  10. Refrain from beginning off-campus work until you have obtained the necessary authorization in advance from either ISSS or the USCIS.
  11. If traveling outside the U.S., ensure you have a valid visa (except citizens of Canada and Bermuda) and a recent travel signature on your I-20.
  12. Notify ISSS if you will be outside of the U.S. for more than 5 months.
  13. Contact ISSS if you wish to transfer to another U.S. school.
  14. Not work after completing your program of study unless you have been authorized for Optional Practical Training.
  15. Depart from the U.S. within 60 days after completing your program of study.